JAMES W. GERARD
FACE TO FACE WITH KAISERISM
THE KULTUR OF KAISERDOM---THE GERMAN SOUL
THE older I grow the more it seems to me that all men are alike and that they have been alike at all periods of history, capable of the same development and differing only because of environment.
I do not believe, for example, that any mystery is concealed behind the faces of the peoples of the East. Once I asked Soughimoura, my colleague in Berlin, Ambassador of Japan, whether the Japanese were as much subject to nerves as western peoples. He answered in the affirmative but said they were taught from infancy to control their nerves. I asked him how, and he said the principle of the system was deep abdominal breathing with a slow release of the breath as soon as nervousness came on. Japanese wrestlers practised this, he added, and when a man took deep breaths it was almost impossible to throw him.
Of course, social life and customs change with climate. But education is the most powerful factor of all. The Aztecs of Mexico offered human sacrifices, but the letter of the Aztec mother to her daughter, giving advice and counsel, mentioned by Prescott in his history, might have been written by a New England mother to-day. Somewhere in the world is a savage eating human flesh, persuaded that in so doing he is acting in accordance with the tenets of his religion.
These are the extremes.
But the German or rather the Prussian, has been moulded into the extraordinary person that he is to-day by a slow process of education extending through several generations. At Marienburg, on the Baltic shore of Germany, stands the ancient castle of the Teutonic Knights recently restored by the German Kaiser. The Knights at one time conquered and occupied much of the territory that is now modern Prussia. A military religious order, they attracted adventurers from all lands and their descendants constitute many of the noble families .of Prussia. It is this tradition of conquest for gain that still animates the ruling class of Prussia and therefore all Germany.
Later through the middle ages and as the central power of the Emperor grew weaker and weaker., what is to-day Germany became a nest of dukedoms and principalities. Before the French Revolution these numbered hundreds. After the Thirty Years' War which ravaged Germany from 1615 to 1645 extreme poverty was often conspicuous at these petty courts. War was an industry and the poor German peasants were frequently bartered as slaves to the war-god, as the Hessians were sold by their ruler to the British in our War of the Revolution. The Germans were then the mercenaries of Europe, savages skilled in war, without mercy towards the towns unfortunate enough to be given to their pillage. There is no more horrible event in all history than that of the sack of Rome by the German mercenaries in the year 1527. Under General George von Frundsberg, who joined forces with the recreant constable Bourbon of France and the Spaniards, these lawless Germans invaded the fertile plains of Italy and took Rome by assault.
The most awful outrages were perpetrated. Prelates were tortured after being paraded through the streets of the Eternal City, dressed in their sacred pontificals and mounted on donkeys. Altars were defiled, sacred images broken, vestments and services and works of art taken from the plundered churches and sacred relics insulted, broken and scattered. For nine months the orgy continued, the inhabitants being tortured by these German soldiers in their effort to find hidden treasure. In fact conditions in Belgium to-day had their counterpart centuries ago in the treatment of Roman Catholic Priests and the people of Rome.
The great change in the feeling of the country towards Prussia since the latter's conquest of the rest of Germany in 1866, is still exemplified by one quotation from Goethe. He said, "The Prussian was born a brute and civilisation will make him ferocious." We all have seen how prophetic was this sentence. Skilled in chemistry, in science, well educated, made rich by manufacturing and foreign commerce, the Prussians of to-day have shown themselves far more bloody, far more cruel than the German lansquenet of the middle ages who sold himself, his two handed sword, his military experience and his long lance to the highest bidder.
Tacitus tells of how the ancient Germans when drawn up in battle array used to sing a sort of war song to terrify their enemies.
It was Goethe incidentally who remarked "Amerika, du hast es besser." (America, you are better off.) The poet who died in 1832 foresaw, indeed, the coming power of the free democracy across the seas.
It was interesting to note the psychological development of the Germans during the war. For the very short time while war hung in the balance there was a period almost of rejoicing, among the singing crowds in the streets---a universal release of tension after forty years' preparation for war.
Next came the busy period of mobilisation and then, as the German armies swept through Belgium and France, stronghold and fortress falling before them, there came a period of intense exaltation, a period when the most reasonable Germans, the light of success and conquest in their eyes, declared German Kultur would now be imposed on the whole world.
The battle of the Marne ended this period of rejoicing and, through the winter of 1914-1915, when it became apparent that Germany would not win by a sudden assault, the temper of the people began to change to an attitude of depression.
It has been at all times the policy of the German autocracy to keep the people of Germany from amusing themselves. I know of no class in Germany which really enjoys life. The Counts and Junkers have their country estates. Life on these estates, which are administered solely for profit, is not like country life in England or America. The houses are plain and, for the most part, without the conveniences of bath rooms and heating to which we are accustomed in America. Very few automobiles are owned in Germany. There are practically no small country houses or bungalows, although at a few of the sea places rich Jews have villas.
The wealthy merchant takes his vacation in summer at Carlsbad or Kissingen or in some other resort where his physical constitution, disorganised by over-eating and over-drinking, can be regulated somewhat. Many Germans take their families to Switzerland where the German of all ages with knapsack and Alpine stick is a familiar sight.
Earnestness is the watchword. For should the people once get a taste of pleasure they might decide that the earth offered fairer possibilities than life in the barracks or the admiring contemplation of fat and complacent grand dukes and princes.
Much of this sycophancy is due to the poverty of the educated classes. Salaries paid to officials are ridiculously small. The German workingmen both in wages and living are on a lower scale than those of other western nations with the possible exception of Russia, Italy and the Balkan States. The professional and business classes earn very little. The reason for the superiority of the German in the chemical industry is because a chemist, a graduate of the university, can be hired for less than the salary of an American chauffeur.
And this earnestness of life was insisted upon even to a greater degree by the autocracy with the opening of war. The playing of dance music brought a visit from the police. The theatres at first were closed but later opened. Only plays of a serious or patriotic nature were originally permitted. Dancing was tabooed, but in the winter of 1915-1916 Reinhardt was allowed to produce a ballet of a severely classical nature and at the opera performances the ponderous ballet girls were permitted to cavort as usual.
I saw no signs of any great religious revival, no greater attendance at the churches. Perhaps this was because I was in the Protestant part of Germany where the church is under the direct control of the government and where the people feel that in attending church they are only attending an extra drill, a drill where they will be told of the glories of the autocracy and the necessity of obedience. In fact, religion may be said to have failed in Germany and many state-paid preachers launched sermons of hate from their state-owned pulpits.
Always fond of the drama and opera I was a constant attendant at theatres in Berlin. The best known manager in Berlin is Reinhardt, who has under his control the Deutsches Theatre with its annex, the Kammerspiel and also the People's Theatre on the Bülow Platz. I made the acquaintance of Mr. Reinhardt and his charming wife who takes part in many of his productions. I dined with them in their picturesque house on the Kupfer Graben. In the Deutsches Theatre the great revolving stage makes change of scene easy so that Reinhardt is enabled to present Shakespeare, a great favourite in Germany, in a most picturesque manner. He manages to lend even to the most solemn tragedy little touches that add greatly to the interest and keep the attention fixed.
For instance in his production of "Macbeth," when Lady Macbeth comes in, in the sleep-walking scene, rubbing her hands and saying, "What, will these hands ne'er be clean?" the actress taking this part in Berlin gave a very distinct and loud snore between every three or four words: thus most effectively reminding the audience that she was asleep.
As the war continued the taste of the Germans turned to sombre, tragical and almost sinister plays. Only a death on the stage seemed to bring a ray of animation to the stolid bovine faces of the audience. In my last winter in Berlin the hit of the season was "Erdgeist," a play by Wedekind, whose "Spring's Awakening," given in New York in the spring of 1917, horrified and disgusted the most hardened Broadway theatregoers. The principal female rôle was played by a Servian actress, Maria Orska---very much on the type of Nazimova. In this play, presented to crowded audiences, only one of the four acts was without a death.
Another favourite during war-time, played at Reinhardt's theatre, was "Maria Magdalena." The characters were the father, mother, son and daughter of a German family in a small town and two young men in love with the daughter. In the first act the police arrest the son for theft, giving the mother such a shock that she dies of apoplexy on the stage. In the second act, the two lovers have a duel and one is killed. In the third act, the surviving lover commits suicide, and, in the fourth act, the daughter jumps down the well. The curtain descends leaving only the old man and the cat alive and the impression is given that if the curtain were ten seconds later either the cat would get the old man or the old man would get the cat!
The mysterious play of Peer Gynt was given in two theatres during each winter of the war. All of Ibsen's dramas played to crowded houses. Reinhardt, during the last winter I was in Berlin, produced Strindberg's "Ghost Sonata," in quite a wonderful way. The play was horrible and grewsome enough, but as produced by him, it gave a strong man nightmare for days afterwards.
The German soul, indeed, seems to turn not towards light and gay and graceful things, but towards bloodshed and grewsomeness, ghosts and mystery---effect doubtless of the long, dark, bitter nights and gray days that overshadow these northern lands.
I think the only time I lost my temper in Germany was when a seemingly reasonable and polite gentleman from the Foreign Office sitting by my desk one day, in 1916, remarked how splendid it was that Germany had nearly two million prisoners of war and that these would go back to their homes imbued with an intense admiration of German Kultur.
I said that I believed that the two million prisoners of war who had been insulted and underfed and beaten and forced to work as slaves in factories and mines and on farms would go back to their homes with such a hatred of all things German that it would not be safe for Germans to travel in countries from which these prisoners came, that other nations had their own Kultur with which they were perfectly satisfied and which they did not wish to change for any made-in-Germany brand!
Certain Germans have prated much of German "Kultur," have boasted of imposing this "Kultur" on the world by force of arms. What is this German "Kultur"? A certain efficiency of government obtained by keeping the majority of the people out of all voice in governmental affairs, a certain low cost of manufactured products or of carrying charges in the shipping trades made possible by enslaving the workmen who toil long hours for small wages---a certain superiority in chemical production because trained chemists, willing to work at one semi-mechanical task, can be hired for less than a Fifth Avenue butler is paid in America, and a certain pre-eminence in military affairs reached by subjecting the mass of the people to the brutal, boorish, non-commissioned officers and the galling yoke of a militaristic system.
Subtract the German Jews and in the lines of real culture there would be little of the real thing left in Germany. Gutman, Bleichroeder, von Swabachy Friedlander-Fuld, Rathenau, Simon, Warburg in finance; Borchardt and others in surgery, and almost the whole medical profession; the Meyers, the Ehrlichs, Bamberger, Hugo, Schiff, Newburger, Bertheim, Paul Jacobson, in chemistry and research; Mendelssohn, and others, in music; Harden, Theodor Wolf, Georg Bernhard and Professor Stein in journalism.
But why continue---about the only men not Jews prominent in the intellectual, artistic, financial, or commercial life of Germany are the pastors of the Lutheran Churches. And the Jews have won their way to the front in almost a generation. Still refused commissions in the standing army (except for about 114 since the war), still compelled to renounce their religion before being eligible for nobility or a court function, still practically excluded from university professorships, considered socially inferior, the Jews of Germany until a few years ago lived under disabilities that had survived from the Middle Ages. They were not allowed to bear Christian names. The marriages of Jews and Christians were forbidden. Jews could not own houses and lands. They were not permitted to engage in agriculture and could not become members of the guilds or unions of handicraftsmen. When a Jew travelled he was compelled to pay a tax in each province through which he passed. Jews attending the fair at Frankfort on the Oder were compelled to pay a head tax, and were admitted to Leipzig and Dresden on condition that they might be expelled at any, time. Berlin Jews were compelled to buy annually, a certain quantity of porcelain, derisively called "Jew's porcelain" from the Royal manufactory and to sell it abroad. When a Jew married he had to get permission and an annual impost was paid on each member of the family, while only one son could remain at home, and the others were forced to seek their fortune abroad. The Jews could worship in their own way, in some states, provided they used only two small rooms and made no noise.
The reproach that the Jew is not a producer, but is a mere middleman, taking a profit as goods pass from hand to hand, is handed down from the time when Jews were forbidden by law to become producers and, therefore, were compelled to become traders and middlemen, barred from the guilds and from engaging in the cultivation of the soil.
The German newspaper in size is much smaller than ours. If you take an ordinary American newspaper and fold it in half, the fold appearing horizontally across the middle of the page and then turn it so that the longer sides are upright, you get an idea of the size. There are no editorials in German newspapers, but articles, usually only one a day, on some political or scientific subject, one contributed by a professor or some one else supposedly not connected with the newspaper.
The editor of the German newspaper in his desire to poison and colour the news to suit his own views does not rely upon an editorial, but inserts little paragraphs and sentences in the news columns. For instance, a note of President Wilson's might be printed and after a paragraph of that, a statement something like this will be inserted in parentheses. "This statement comes well from the old hypocrite whose country has been supplying arms and ammunition to the enemies of Germany. The Editor." A few sentences more or a paragraph of the note and another interlineation of this kind. Small newspapers have a news service furnished free by the government, thus enabling the latter to colour the news to suit itself. It is characteristic of Germany and shows how void of amusement the life of an average citizen is and how the country is divided into castes, that there is no so-called society or personal news in the columns of the daily newspaper.
You never see in a German newspaper accounts common even to our small town newspapers, of how Mrs. Snooks gave a tea or how Mrs. Jones, of Toledo, is visiting Mrs. Judge Bascom for Thanksgiving. If a prince or duke comes to a German town a simple statement is printed that he is staying at such and such a hotel.
German newspapers, as a rule, are very pronounced in their views, either distinctly Conservative or Liberal or Socialist or Roman Catholic. The Berliner Tageblatt is nearest our idea of a great independent, metropolitan, daily newspaper. Other newspapers represent a class and many of them are owned by particular interests such as the Krupps and other manufacturers or munition makers.
There is little that is sensational in the German newspaper. I remember on one occasion that two women murderers were beheaded in accordance with German law. Imagine how such an occurrence would have been "played up" in the American newspapers, with pictures, perhaps, of the executioner and his sword, with articles from poets and women's organisations, with appeals for pardon and talk of brainstorms and the other hysterical concomitants of murder trials in the United States. But in the German newspapers a, little paragraph, not exceeding ten lines, simply related the fact that these two women, condemned for murdering such and such a person, had been executed in the strangely medieval manner---their heads cut off on the scaffold by a public executioner.
The German newspapers in reporting police court and other judicial proceedings often omit names and it is possible in Berlin for a man to prosecute a blackmailer without having his own name in print.
When a German victory was announced flags were displayed, but as the war progressed so many victories announced turned out to be nothing wonderful or decisive that little attention was paid to the vainglorious flaunting of German triumphs. Following an old custom ten or fifteen trumpeters climbed the tower of Rathhaus or City Hall and there quite characteristically blew to the four quarters of Heaven; but again as these official and brazen blowings were not always followed by the confirmation in fact, trumpetings were gradually discontinued.
The Germans cleverly kept back the announcement of certain successes in order to offset reverses. For instance, on a day when it was necessary to tell the people of a German retreat the newspapers would have great headlines across the front of the first page announcing the sinking of a British cruiser (sunk, perhaps, a month before) and then hidden in a corner would be a minimised announcement of a German defeat.
To us in Germany there was at the time no battle of the Marne. So gradually was the news of the retreat of the German forces broken to the people that to-day the masses do not realise that the .fate of the world was settled at the Marne!
THE LITTLE KAISERS
A the king idea seems inseparably connected with war there is no country in the world where kings and princes have been held in such great account as in the Central Empires.
I believe there are only two Christian kings in the world-the kings of Italy and of Montenegro---who are not by blood related to some German or Austrian royalty.
For remember that while we think of Germany as ruled by the Kaiser and while it is his will that is certainly imposed upon the whole of that territory which does not exist politically or even geographically but which we call Germany, there are houses of royalty in it almost as numerous as our big corporations. There are the three kings of Bavaria, Würtemburg and Saxony, grand dukes and dukes, and princes, all of them taking themselves very seriously and all of them residing in their own domains; jealously keeping away from the Emperor's court and jealously guarding every remnant of rule which the constitution of the German Empire has bequeathed to them.
Once I asked one of these princelings what his older brother, the reigning prince, did with his time in the small provincial town which is the capital of the principality. The brother looked at me with real surprise in his eyes and answered, "Why he reigns !"
Before the constitution of the German Empire, many of these poverty-stricken little courts were centres of kindly amusement, even of intellectual life.
The court of the Grand Duke Charles-Augustus, of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach at Weimar where Goethe resided and where he was entrusted with responsible state duties, was renowned in Europe as a literary centre.
Many of these princelings, however ridiculous their courts may have seemed, exercised despotic power. To-day the inhabitants of the two Mecklenburg duchies are protected by neither constitution nor bill of rights. The grand duke's power is absolute and he can behead at will any one of his subjects in the market-place or torture him to death in the dungeons of the castle and is responsible to God alone.
Here is an example from history. George Louis, Duke of Brunswick-Luneburg-Celle, married his mistress, a Huguenot girl called Eleanore d'Olbreuze. They had one daughter, Sophia Dorothea, who married the Elector of Hanover, who was also George I of England. Sophia Dorothea was supposed to have been involved in a love affair with a Swedish Count, Philip Konigsmarck. Konigsmarck was murdered by order of George I, and Sophia Dorothea incarcerated in Ahlden where she died in 1726. Konigsmarck's sister went to Saxony to beg the aid of the Saxon King, Augustus the Strong. She failed to get news of her brother, but became one of the mistresses of Augustus the Strong and the mother of the celebrated Marshal Saxe. I say one of the "mistresses" of Augustus the Strong because he boasted that he was the father of 365 illegitimate children!
The daughter of Sophia Dorothea was the mother of Frederick the Great and his brothers, and therefore, an ancestor of the present German Kaiser. Any one writing about her in a disparaging manner is subject to be imprisoned, under the decisions of the Imperial Supreme Court, for "lèse-majesté" or injuring the person of the present monarch in daring to slander his ancestors. And, I suppose, any one referring to Augustus the Strong may be shut up in Dresden for insulting a predecessor of the present King.
Every year the nobles of the Central Empires hold a convention at Frankfort, where the means are discussed by which their privileges may be preserved. No newspaper prints an account of this Convention of the highest Caste.
The German peasants, as far as I have seen, are not so much under the dominion of feudal tradition as are the peasants in Austria and Hungary.
I was shooting once with a Hungarian Count who stationed me in one corner of a field to await the partridges, which driven by the beaters were expected to fly over my head and as I stood waiting for the beaters to take up their positions two peasant girls walked past me. One of them, to my surprise, caught hold of my hand, which she kissed with true feudal devotion. As a guest of the Count I was presumably of the noble class and therefore entitled by custom and right to this mark of subjugation. And it became quite a task in walking through the halls of the castle to dodge the servants, all of whom seemed anxious to imprint on me the kiss of homage.
Thackeray in the "Fitzboodle Confessions" gives a most amusing account of life in one of these small, sleepy, German courts and relates how he left Pumpernickel hurriedly, by night, after the court ball where he had discovered not only that his German fiancée had eaten too much, but that she had a taste for bad oysters.
All of these small kings and princes are jealous of the King of Prussia and of his position of German Emperor and show their jealousy by avoiding Berlin.
In October, 1913, when in London on my way to Germany, I met the young Grand Duke of Mecklenberg Strelitz in the Ritz Hotel where he was dining with an English earl and his beautiful wife. As I happened to have a box for the Gaiety Theatre, we all went there together and paid a visit to George Grossmith behind the scenes and talked with Emmy Wehlen, the Austrian actress, who was appearing in the comic opera then running. But in all the time that I was in Germany I never once saw or heard of the young Grand Duke who rules the subjects of his duchy with autocratic rule without even the semblance of a constitution.
Formerly our minister used to be accredited to some of these courts and, on inquiring informally through a friend, I learned that the American Minister is still accredited to Bavaria on the records of the Bavarian Foreign Office, no letters of recall ever having been presented. The fact that the American Ambassador is accredited to none of these courts is a distinct disadvantage because without letters of credence he does not come into contact with any of the twenty-four rulers of Germany who control the Bundesrat in which their representatives sit, voting as they are told by the kings, grand dukes and princes. A number of these kings and princelings, combining in the Bundesrat, can outvote the powerful king of Prussia. But they don't dare!
I HAD a shooting estate about twenty miles from Berlin, one that I could reach by automobile in forty-five minutes from the door of the Embassy. Because of the strict German game laws I had better shooting there than within two hundred miles of large cities in America.
There seemed to be something to shoot there almost every day of the year. On the sixteenth of May the season opened for male roe---a very small deer. About the first of August the ducks, which breed in northern Germany, can he shot. These were mallards and there were about two thousand or more on a lake on my preserve. We usually shot them by digging blinds in the oat fields, shooting them after sunset as they flew from the lake to feed in the newly harvested grain. The season for Hungarian partridge opened on August 20th. These were shot over dogs in the stubble and in the potato fields. After a few weeks partridges became very wild and we then shot them with a kite. When we had put up a covey out of range and marked where they went down in a potato patch or field, perhaps of lucern or clover, a small boy would fly a kite made in the form of a hawk over the field. This kept the partridges from flying and they would lie while the dogs pointed until we put them up.
By October 1st pheasants could be shot; English pheasants become wild. These roosted in the trees at night and so escaped the plentiful foxes. Later on came shooting at long ranges, after they had collected in bands, of the female roe-deer and also the hare shooting. Rabbits were shot at all times, and in November and December and January on foggy days it was not difficult to get a wild goose.
The hares were shot in cold weather, after the snow was on the ground, by walking in line of ten or fifteen beaters with two or three guns at intervals along the line and later, when the hares were very wild and the weather very cold, by what is called by the Germans "kessel-jagd" or kettle-hunt For this hunt the head keeper would collect a number of beaters, as many as a hundred, from the neighboring towns and villages, mostly small boys and old men. On the great, flat plain the keeper would send out his beaters to the right and the left, walking in a straight line at about twenty-yard intervals. After each side had gone perhaps half a mile they would then turn at right angles, walk a mile, and then turn at right angles until the two lines met, so that perhaps a square mile of territory would be enclosed by the beaters with the ten to fifteen men with guns at intervals in the line. When the square had been formed the head keeper blew a blast on his bugle and all turned and walked slowly towards the centre and the hares were shot as they attempted to break through the line.
On one day just before I left Germany, I and members of the Embassy shot more than two hundred hares on one of these hunts. The German hare is an enormous animal with dark meat, almost impossible to distinguish from venison.
After these hare drives, besides, of course, paying the beaters their regular wages, I used to hold a lottery, giving a number of these hares as prizes or distributing hares to the magnates of the village, such as the pastor, the school teacher, the policeman and the postmaster.
When we were shooting in the summer and autumn the peasants were working in the fields and one had to be very careful in shooting roebuck with a high-powered rifle. It is customary to hunt roebuck on these flat plains from a carriage. In this way a bullet, travelling at a downward angle, if the buck is missed, strikes the ground within a short distance. If one were to shoot lying down, kneeling or standing, the danger to peasants in the fields would be very great. The pheasants were sometimes shot over dogs, but usually as the beaters drove small woods. A pheasant driven and flying high makes a difficult mark. One getting up before the dogs is almost too easy a shot.
We shot the rabbits by using ferrets, little animals like weasels wearing little muzzles and bells upon their necks. In the woods where the rabbits had their holes four or five ferrets would be put in the rabbits' holes and it was quite difficult to shoot rabbits as they came out like lightning, dodging among the trees. In the early spring the "birkhahns" were shot, a variety of black and white grouse. There were some blinds or little huts of twigs erected near places where the ground was beaten hard and on these open, beaten spots early in the morning the "birkhahns" waltz, doing a peculiar backward and forward dance in some way connected with their marriage ceremonies. There were also on this estate numbers, at times, of a curious bird found only in Spain, Roumania, Asia Minor, and these plains of the Mark of Brandenburg, a large bustard called by the Germans "trappe." These birds were very shy and hard to approach. Although I had several shots at them with a rifle at four or five hundred yards I did not succeed in getting one.
In talking with the Chancellor he almost always opened the conversation by asking if I had killed a "trappe." As a rule the German uses for shooting deer and roebuck a German Mauser military rifle, but with the barrel cut down and a sporting stock with pistol grip added. On this there is a powerful telescope. Many Germans carry a "ziel-stock," a long walking stick from the bottom of which a tripod can be protruded and near the top a sort of handle piece of metal about as big as a little finger. When the German sportsman has sighted a roebuck he plants his aiming stick in the ground, rests the rifle on the side projection, care fully adjusts his telescope, sets the hair trigger on his rifle and finally touches the trigger.
At the commencement of the war the Duke of Ratibor collected all these sporting rifles with telescopes and sent them to the front. These were of the same calibre as the military rifles and took the military cartridge, so they proved enormously useful for sniping, purposes.
Going one day to a proof establishment to try a gun I opened by mistake a door which led to a great room where thousands of German military rifles were being fitted with telescopes. These telescopes have crossed wires, like those in a surveyor's instrument, and it is only necessary in aiming to fix the centre of the crossed wires on the game and pull the trigger. A clever arrangement enables the wires to be elevated for distant shooting.
So great is the discipline of the German people that game on these estates is seldom, if ever, touched by the peasants. There is no free shooting in Germany. The shooting rights of every inch of land are in possession of some one and the tens of thousands of game keepers constantly killing the crows, hawks, foxes and other birds and animals that destroy eggs and game make the game plentiful. The keeper has the right by law to shoot any stray dog or cat found a hundred yards from a village. I paid the head keeper a certain sum per month and in addition he received a premium called "shot money" for each bird or roebuck shot. He also received a premium for each fox or crow or hawk he destroyed, bringing, on the first of the month, the beaks and claws of the hawks, etc., to prove his claim. Foxes are very plentiful in Germany and in one winter on this estate, only twenty miles from Berlin, the keeper trapped or killed twelve foxes.
The Emperor is very fond of fox shooting. Foxes are driven out of the forest past his shooting stand by beaters and one of the reasons why Prince Furstenberg was such a favourite of the Emperor was that he provided him with splendid fox shooting, although it is whispered that he bought foxes in boxes in all parts of Germany and had them turned loose for the Emperor's benefit.
|Fig. 7. EXAMPLE OF THE COMMEMORATIVE MEDAL OFFERED FOR SALE. ON THE OBVERSE IS THE PORTRAIT OF THE CROWN PRINCE. ON THE REVERSE IS "YOUNG SIEGFRIED" ATTACKING A CHIMERA-LIKE MONSTER WITH FOUR HEADS: A BEAR FOR RUSSIA, A UNICORN FOR ENGLAND, A LION FOR BELGIUM, AND A COCK FOR FRANCE|
In the more thickly forested portions of Germany deer as well as roedeer are shot and in many districts wild boar. In Poland and in a few estates in Germany on the eastern border, moose, called elk (elch in German), are to be had. These, however, have very poor horns.
Talking to the keepers and beaters on this shooting estate gave me a very good idea of the hardships suffered in rural Germany, of the way in which the people in the farming districts are kept down by the lords of the manor and by the government, and it was from this village and the neighbouring town that I got some idea of the number of men called to arms in Germany.
By a custom dating from the devastating wars of the Middle Ages there are practically no farms in Germany, but inhabitants of the agricultural districts are collected in villages and the few farms have, characteristically, a military name. They, are called "vorwerk" or outposts. In the village on my estate there are almost exactly six hundred inhabitants, men, women and children, and of these at the time I left Germany one hundred and ten had been called to the Colours. In the neighbouring town of Mittenwalde, of almost three thousand inhabitants, over five hundred had joined the army. At the commencement of the war the population of the German Empire was about 72,000,000, or something over, and applying these same proportions it will be seen what a vast army was created.
In the industrial districts where men are required for munition work perhaps not as great a proportion has been called. The name of the village on my estate was Gross Machnow, the road from Berlin to Dresden ran through it and only a few miles east was the shooting place of Wusterhausen where the favourite shooting box of the father of Frederick the Great was and where he was accustomed to hold his so-called tobacco parliament, when, with his cronies, over beer and long pipes, the affairs of the nation were discussed with great freedom.
The horse races in Germany are excellent. There are several tracks about Berlin. The Hoppegarten, devoted almost exclusively to flat racing; the Grunewald, the large popular track nearest to Berlin where both steeplechases and other races are held; and Karlshorst, devoted exclusively to steeplechasing and hurdle racing.
The jockey club of Berlin is the Union Club, which owns the Hoppegarten track. Its officers are men of the highest honour and in no country in the world are the races run more honestly, more "on the level," than in Germany.
Nothing makes for mutual international understanding more than sport. Even during the most bitter crises between Germany and America I felt that I could go absolutely alone to the crowded race tracks and, while I know the Germans differed emphatically with the American views of the war, the gentlemen in charge of the races and the members of the Union Club treated me with the kindest consideration and the most graceful courtesy.
I am sorry that I never attended any of the Court hunts which took place in the vicinity of Potsdam. A pack of hounds is kept there and boars hunted. The etiquette is very strict and no one, not presented at court, can appear at these hunts. As I did not have an opportunity to present my letters of credence until a month or more after my arrival in Berlin in the autumn of 1913, the winter rains had set in before I was eligible for the hunts and in addition I had not taken the precaution to order the necessary costumes.
The first time that a man appears at one of these hunts he must wear a tall silk hat, a double-breasted red coat, with tails like a dress coat, white breeches and top boots. After he has once made his appearance in this costume he may, thereafter, substitute for it a red frock hunting coat, white breeches and top boots and a velvet hunting cap, the same shape as the caps worn by the jockies..
There are no jumps on these hunts. When the boar has been brought to bay by the dogs, the right to despatch him with a long hunting knife is reserved for the most distinguished man present. If a royalty is present at one of these hunts he distributes small sprigs of oak leaves to every one at the hunt, cherished ever after as valued souvenirs.
When I first arrived at Berlin, having brought horses with me from America, I used to ride every morning in the Tiergarten. Because so many Germans are in the army, riding is a very favourite sport and in peace times the Tiergarten is crowded with Berliners. Most of the riding was done between seven and ten in the morning. The early rising is compensated for, however, by the siesta after lunch, a universal custom.
Shooting is almost more of a ceremony than a sport. The letters exchanged between Emperor William and Czar Nicholas, lately discovered in the Winter Palace, show what a large part shooting played in their correspondence. One or the other is continually wishing the other "Weidmanns-Heil," which is the German expression for "good luck" as applied to shooting. All royalties must ride and keep in practice, especially because of military service. Indeed, all the sports of the Kaiser and his people converge toward a common object---military efficiency and war.
THE ETERNAL FEMININE
EVEN the women, many of whom are honorary colonels to regiments, must keep in trim for the great parade days of autumn and spring. Many of these female colonels appear in uniform, riding at the head of their regiments. They sit on side saddles, however, and wear skirts corresponding somewhat in colour with the uniform coat and helmet of the regiment of which they are the honorary proprietors.
German female royalties are rather inclined to set an example of quietness in dress. They seldom wear the latest fashion and never follow the exaggerated modes of Paris. Even their figures are of the old-fashioned variety---pinched at the waist. While in the Tiergarten in the morning I saw many good horses, but only one fashionably cut riding habit. Many of the others must have been at least twenty years old, as the sleeves were of the Leg of Mutton style, fashionable, I believe, about that number of years ago.
Many German noblewomen shoot and are quite as good shots as their husbands. I was quite surprised once on a shooting party to meet an elderly princess whose grey hair was in short curls and who wore a coat and waistcoat like a man's. She shot with great skill and smoked long Havana cigars!
When German women get out of the country they very quickly imitate foreign fashions and extravagances of dress. The Czarina of Russia, for example, a German Princess, is very fond of fashions, and a friend of mine who had three audiences with her during the war tells me that on the occasion of his first audience she was dressed in black and received him in a room where yellow flowers were massed. On the second occasion she was in grey and the flowers were pink. At the third audience her dress was purple and the flowers were of lilac and white.
There is one good thing about the king and aristocratic system. The position of women in the social scale is fixed by the husband's rank. There is, therefore, none of that striving, that vying with each other, which so often exhausts the nerves of the American woman and the purse of the husband . The German women give their time and attention to the "Four K's" that, in a German's eyes, should bound a woman's world, "Kaiser, Kinder, Kirche, Kuche" (Emperor, children, church and kitchen).
The successful business man of New York or Chicago or San Francisco is surprised to find how docile and domestic the German woman is---no foolish extravagance, but a real devotion to husband and home, a real mother to her many children. She matches that short epitaph of the Roman matron---"She spun wool; she kept the house."
When I came to Germany I found, on studying the language, that there was no word in German corresponding to "efficient." I soon learned that this is because everything done in Germany is done efficiently, and there is no need to differentiate one act from another in terms of efficiency. But the German man could not be as efficient as he undoubtedly is, without the whole-hearted devotion of the German woman.
German girls are given a good, strong, sound education. They learn languages, not smatterings of them. They are accomplished musicians. Domestic science they learn from their mothers. They are splendid swimmers, hockey players, riders and skaters.
During our first winter in Berlin we spent many afternoons at the Ice Palace in the Lutherstrasse, an indoor ice rink much larger than the one in the Freidrichstrasse, the Admirals Palast, where the ice ballets are given and the graceful Charlotte used to appear. The skating club of the Lutherstrasse was under the patronage of the Crown Prince and was one of the very few meeting places of Berlin society. The women were taught to waltz by male instructors and the men by several young women ---blonde skaters from East Prussia. I tried to improve my skating and spent many hours making painful "Bogens" or circles under the efficient eyes of a little East Prussia instructress. Afternoon tea was served during the interval of skating and one afternoon a week was specially reserved for the Club members.
One of my young secretaries used to go occasionally to Wannsee, near Berlin, to play hockey with a German friend; as the young men were nearly all in the war, girls made up the majority of each team. My secretary reported that those German girls were as strong, as enduring and as skilful as the average young man.
Girls of the working classes, instead of flirting or turkey trotting at night, make a practice of going to the Turnvereins, to exercise in the gymnasiums there. If the members of the German lower classes only had the opportunity to rise in life what would they not accomplish! So many of them are very ambitious, persistent, earnest and thrifty.
Of course, female suffrage in Germany or anything approaching it is very distant. First of all, the men must win a real ballot for themselves in Prussia, a real representation in the Reichstag. In the Germany of to-day, a woman with feminist aspirations is looked on as the men of the official class look on a Social Democrat, something hardly to be endured. And this is in spite of the fact that the nations to the North, in Scandinavia, freed women even before America did.
The most beautiful woman in Berlin society is Countess Oppersdorff---the mother of thirteen children. She is not German, but was born a Polish Princess Radziwill.
The chief lady of the Imperial Court is Countess Brockdorff. She is rather stern in appearance and manner, and rumour has it that she was appointed to keep the good-natured, easy-going Empress to the strict line of German court etiquette, to see that the Empress, rather democratic in inclination, did not stray away from the traditional rigidity of the Prussian royal house.
Countess Brockdorff is a most able woman. I grew to have not only a great respect, but almost an affection for her. At court functions she usually wears a mantilla as a distinguished mark and several orders and decorations. We had three women friends from America with us in Berlin whom we presented at Court. All were married, but only the husband of one of them could leave his work and visit Germany. The two other husbands, in accordance with the good American custom, were at work in America. Countess Brockdorff spoke to the lady whose husband was with her, saying to her, "I am glad to see that your husband is with you," an implied rebuke to the other ladies and an exhibition of that failure to understand other nations so characteristic of highly placed Germans. With us, of course, a good-natured American husband, wedded as much to his business as to his wife, permits his wife to travel abroad without him and neither he nor she is reproved in America because of this.
Among the other ladies attendant on the Empress are Fräulein von Gersdorff, whose cousin is a lawyer practising in New York, and Countess Keller. There are other ladies and a number of maids of honour and all of them are overworked, acting as secretaries, answering letters and attending various charitable and other functions, either with the Empress or representing her. One of the charming maids of honour, Countess Bassewitz, was married during the war to Prince Oscar, the Kaiser's fifth son. This marriage was morganatic, that is, the lady does not take the name, rank and title of her husband. In this case another title was given her, that of Countess Ruppin, and her sons will be known as Counts Ruppin, but will not be Princes of Prussia.
There is much misunderstanding in America as to these morganatic marriages. By the rules of many royal and princely houses, a member of the house cannot marry a woman not of equal rank and give her his name, titles and rank. But the marriage is in all other respects perfectly legal. The ceremony is performed in accordance with Prussian law, before a civil magistrate and also in a church, and should the husband attempt to marry again he would be guilty of bigamy.
I gave away the bride at one of these morganatic marriages, when Prince Christian of Hesse married Miss Elizabeth Reid-Rogers, a daughter of Richard Reid Rogers, a lawyer of New York. Prince Christian has an extremely remote chance of ever coming to the throne of the Grand Duchy of Hesse, but nevertheless and because of the rules of the House of Hesse-Barchfeld, he cannot give his rank and title to a wife, not of equal birth. The head of the House, therefore, the Grand Duke of Hesse, conferred the title of Baroness Barchfeld in her own right on the bride, and her children will be known as Barons and Baronesses Barchfeld.
When Prince Christian and his wife go out to dinner in Berlin, he is given his rank at the table as a member of a royal house, but his wife is treated on a parity with the wives of all officers holding commissions of equal grade with her husband in the army. As her husband is a Lieutenant, she ranks merely as a Lieutenant's wife. On the same day that Miss Rogers and Prince Christian were wedded, Miss Cecilia May of Baltimore married Lieutenant Vom Rath. I acted as one of Miss May's witnesses at the Standesamt, where the civil marriage was performed, while the religious marriage took place in our Embassy. Lieutenant Vom Rath is the son of one of the proprietors of the great dye works manufactories known as Lucius-Meister-Farbewerke at Hoehst, near Frankfurt a. M., where salvarsan and many other medicines used in America are manufactured, as well as dyestuffs and chemicals.
In my earlier book I described presentations at the Royal Prussian Court in Berlin, especially the great court called the "Schleppencour," because of the long trains or Schleppe worn by the women. All the little kingdoms and principalities of the German Empire have somewhat the same ceremonies. In Dresden, the capital of Saxony, a peculiar custom is followed. The King and Queen sit at a table at one end of the room playing cards and the members of the court and distinguished strangers file into the room, pass by the card table in single file and drop deep courtesies and make bows to the seated royalties, who, as a rule, do not even take the trouble to glance at those engaged in this servile tribute to small royalty. I suppose that the excuse for this is that it is an old custom. But so is serfdom!
There are in Germany many so-called mediatised families, so-called because at one time they possessed royal rank and rights over small bits of territory before Napoleon changed the map of Europe and wiped out so many small principalities.
At the Congress of Vienna these families who lost their right of rule, in part compensation, were given the right to marry either royalties or commoners; so that the marriage of a Prince of Prussia with a daughter of one of these mediatised houses would not be morganatic. The girl would take the full rank of her husband and the children would inherit any rights, including the rights to the throne possessed by him.
Thus the beautiful young Countess Platen, shortly before we left Berlin, was married to von Stumm, the very able Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. While she became on her marriage Baroness von Stumm, nevertheless, if she had married the son of the Kaiser, she would have taken his rank and her children would have inherited all rights and titles possessed by their father. This is because the Platens, although bearing only the title of Counts, are a mediatised family.
It is noteworthy that in Berlin women of that blonde type with regular features, which we believe is the German type, are very rare. This type is to he found perfected in Scandinavia, although a few specimens exist in Germany. Looking over a Berlin theatre I have often noticed the predominance of brown and black hair.
There is always some one higher up to whom German women must curtsy. All women, whatever their husband's rank, must curtsy to a Royal Prince. Unmarried girls curtsy to married women and kiss their hands. Men, on meeting women, always kiss their hands.
Berlin is certainly the gossip headquarters of the, world. Some years ago the whole town was invaded by a mania for anonymous letter writing, and when the smoke had cleared away few were left with unriddled reputations.
It is the fashion of the present court, however, to be very puritanical. No such little affairs are going on publicly, as have occurred in the annals of the Hohenzollern family. For even the old Emperor William, grandfather of the present Kaiser, had numerous love affairs. The tree is still pointed out near the Tiergarten where he met Princess Radziwill every day.
And the Chancellor's palace was once the home of another royal "friend."
The Foreign Office was at one time the home of the Italian dancer, La Barberini, the only woman who ever for a time enslaved Frederick the Great. I discussed affairs of state with von Jagow and Zimmermann in the very room where she gave her supper parties.
HOME LIFE AND "BRUTALITY" OF THE PEOPLE
THE apartments of Berlin are designed for outward show for which the Berliners have a weakness. They have great reception and diningrooms called "representation rooms," but very little comfort or space in the sleeping quarters.
It is impossible to think of dropping in suddenly on a Berliner for a meal. The dinners are always for as many people as the rooms will hold and are served by a caterer.
Only two very distinguished guests may be invited. The host and hostess sit opposite each other at the sides of the table, with the guests tapering off in rank to right and left of them, the ends of the tables being filled up with aides and secretaries. When a great man is invited his aide or secretary must be asked also. These come usually without their wives.
After dinner men and women leave the table together and smoke in the other rooms of the house, going from group to group. And, although perhaps ten kinds of wine are served during dinner, as soon as the guests leave the dining-room, servants make their appearance with trays of glasses of light and dark beer and continue to offer beer during the remainder of the evening.
The Germans talk much of food and spend a greater part of their income on food than any other nation. They take much interest in table furnishings, china, etc., and invariably turn over the plates to see the marks on the under side.
Whipped cream is an essential to many German dishes, and in the season a Berliner will commit any crime to obtain some plover's eggs.
The weiss bier of Berlin, served in wide goblets, is rather going out of fashion. It often is drunk mixed with raspberry juice.
The restaurants of Berlin are not gay, like those of Paris. There is, however, a rather rough night life created for foreign consumption. I did not take in any of these night restaurants and dancing cabarets, warned by the case of an Ambassador from ------ who was reproved by von Jagow for visiting the "Palais de Danse."
In peace time few automobiles are to be seen on the Berlin streets. There are many millionaires in the city, but the old habits of German thrift persist.
The modern architecture of Germany is repulsive. The man who builds a new house seems to want to get something resembling as nearly as possible a family vault. Ihne, court architect and Imperial favourite, has produced, however, some beautiful buildings, notably the new library in Berlin.
Munich pretends to be more of a centre of art and music than Berlin. Artists have their headquarters there, but the disciples of the awful "art nouveau" and kindred "arts" have produced many horrors in striving for new effects.
The opera in Munich is better than in Berlin. One of the Bavarian Princes plays a fiddle in the orchestra in the Royal Opera House.
The Berlin hospitals are better than ours, except for the caste system which prevails even there, and there are first, second and third class wards.
The underground road is built at about the same depth as the New York subway. There are two classes, second and third; there are no guards on the trains, only the motorman in the first car. The passengers open the side doors themselves and these are shut either by passengers or station guards. Accidents are rare, all showing the innate discipline of the people. The charge is by distance. You buy a ticket for five or eight stations and give up the ticket as you go out of the station. If you have travelled farther than the distance called for by your ticket you must make the additional payment. This requires that each ticket be inspected separately when taken up.
The tramways have different routes. These routes are shown by signs and by numbers displayed on the car. Women motormen in the war period caused many accidents.
For those Germans who cannot afford to ride or shoot, walking is the principal recreation. There are a few golf courses in the German Empire, mostly patronised by foreigners and American dentists.
Military training is always in view and the use of the knapsack on walking tours is universal, even school children carry their books to school in knapsacks and so become accustomed, at an early age, to carry this part of the soldier's burden.
Occasionally, in summer, bands of girls or boys are to be seen on walking tours. In addition to the usual knapsack, they carry guitars or mandolins. These young people are known as "Wander vogel" (wandering birds), and sing as they walk. But they don't sing very loud. They might break some regulation.
Outside of the large cities and even in the cities vacant lots are occupied by "arbour colonies" (lauben colonie)---tiny little houses of wood erected by city workingmen and surrounded by little gardens of vegetables and flowers. Here the city workman spends Sunday and often the twilight hours and the night in summer time. Of course, these are possible only in a country where the workingman is in a distinct social class and where he is compelled to be content with the amusements and occupations of that class alone.
There is no baseball or substitute for it---the clerks get their diversion in a country excursion or at the free bath on the Warm or Muggel Lake.
These "free baths," so-called, are stretches of sandy lake shore where the populace resort in hot weather, undressing with the indifference of animals on the beach, men and women all mixed together, the men wearing only little bathing trunks and the women scanty one-piece bathing suits.
There is a bathing tent where two cents is charged for the privilege of undressing, but most prefer the open beach. Few swim or go in the water, but the majority lie about the beach, often sleeping in affectionate embrace, all without exciting any comment or ridicule.
The boy scout movement was taken up enthusiastically in Germany with the cheerful support of the military caste, who look on the activity as a welcome adjunct to military training. The boys certainly are given a dose of real drill. On one occasion I saw a boy company at drill march straight into the Havel river, no command to halt having been given at the river bank!
The workingmen of Germany are more brutal than those of England, France and America, but this is because of the low wages they receive, and because they feel the weight of the caste system.
In a speech in December, 1917, I said that a revolution in Germany would come after the war and that a fellow Ambassador in Berlin had said to me that because of the great brutality of the workingmen in Germany this uprising would make the French Revolution look like a Methodist Sunday School picnic. A newspaper reported me as saying this on my own authority and added that I had said the Germans were the most "bestial" people on earth.
I only want to be responsible for what I actually say. I did not call the Germans "bestial," although unfortunately it is a fact that many officers of the army and others have been guilty of a brutality which has helped turn the face of the world from the whole German people.
Not all the Germans are brutal. I received many letters revealing evidence to the contrary.
Here is the protest of a German soldier, an eyewitness of the slaughter of Russian soldiers in the Masurian lakes and swamps:
"It was frightful, heart-rending, as these masses of human beings were driven to destruction. Above the terrible thunder of the cannon could be heard the heart-rending cries of the Russians: 'Oh, Prussians! Oh, Prussians!' But there was no mercy. Our Captain had ordered: 'The whole lot must die; so rapid fire.'
"As I have heard, five men and one officer on our side went mad from those heart-rending cries. But most of my comrades and the officers joked as the unarmed and helpless Russians shrieked for mercy when they were being suffocated in the swamps and shot down. The order was: 'Close up and at it harder!'
"For days afterward those heart-rending yells followed me, and I dare not think of them or I shall go mad. There is no God, there is no morality and no ethics any more. There are no human beings any more, but only beasts. Down with militarism!"
This was the experience of a Prussian soldier. At present wounded; Berlin, October 22, 1914.
"If you are a truth-loving man, please receive these lines from a common Prussian soldier."
Here is the testimony of another German soldier on the East Front:
"Russian Poland, Dec. 18, 1914.
"In the name of Christianity I send you these words. My conscience forces me as a Christian German soldier to inform you of these lines.
"Wounded Russians are killed with the bayonet according to orders, and Russians who have surrendered are often shot down in masses according to orders in spite of their heart-rending prayers.
"In the hope that you, as the representative of a Christian State, will protest against this, I sign myself, 'A German Soldier and Christian.'
"I would give my name and regiment, but these words could get me court-martialed for divulging military secrets."
The following letter is from a soldier on the Western Front:
"To the American Government, Washington, U. S. A.:
"Englishmen who have surrendered are shot down in small groups. With the French one is more considerate. I ask whether men let themselves be taken prisoner in order to be disarmed and shot down afterward? Is that chivalry in battle?
"It is no longer a secret among the people; one hears everywhere that few prisoners are taken; they are shot down in small groups. They say naively, 'We don't want any unnecessary mouths to feed. Where there is no one to enter complaint, there is no judge.' Is there, then, no power in the world which can put an end to these murders and rescue the victims? Where is Christianity? Where is right? Might is right.
"A Soldier and Man Who Is No Barbarian."
The first two letters refer to the battle of the Masurian Lakes, when the troops of Hindenburg, in checking the invading Russians, indulged in a needless slaughter of prisoners.
I heard in Berlin of many cases of insanity of both German officers and men who were driven insane by the scenes of slaughter at this battle and especially by the great cry of horror and despair uttered by the poor Russians as they were shot down in cold blood or driven to a living death in the lakes and marshes.
An American newspaper said this could not be true, asking why did I not publish the letters in my first book. But my first book did not contain all I have to relate, and the letters in question were sent by me to the State Department early in the war, and were not at hand on the publication of my other series.
But speaking of anonymous letters, shortly before I left Germany I received a package containing a necklace of diamonds and pearls with a letter, which, translated, reads as follows:
"The enclosed jewelry was found in the fully destroyed house of Monsieur Guesnet of 36 Rue de Bassano, Paris. It is requested that this jewelry, which is his property, be returned to him."
The package was addressed to the Embassy of the United States. I took it with me on leaving Germany and restored it to the family of the owner in Paris. The Guesnet country house lay within the German lines and the sending of the jewelry to me shows conscience somewhere in the German army.
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